Deutscher Werkbund’s

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Art ・Chicago ・3 Sources


Deutscher Werkbund Exhibition of 1927 at Stuggart was a flaming image and a pivotal move to modern architecture and controversial to modern life or so portrayed in German society. Lucius Burckhardt[1] in The Werkbund: History and Ideology, (The Design Council Publishing, 1880, c1977) emphasized that the Germany craved for a new identity following the WWI that would be at par to those emerging countries such as England and the United States.  Other countries in Europe faced the same problems. Many felt that they had to abandon traditional methods and to introduce technology into their building methods, So as to reduce the costs of building time. 

In the post war years, there was no room for luxury in terms of traditional construction and life style. Mies and Mayor of Stuttgart[2] stated that: "Efficiency measures in all areas of our lives do not stop where housing is at issue. The economic conditions of today prohibit any kind of waste and demand the maximum effect with minimum amount of means, requiring the implementation of such materials and technological appliances which will lead to lower building and operational costs, and will lead to a simplification of households, and to improvements of living itself."

Living well and efficiently was the main concern and the goal of the Deutscher Werkbund organization. By mid of the 20-century German critics realized that German industrial products were not coping with the rate and were not fit for competition. In The Great White Hope, Thomas Hoffman highlights that in order to fulfill a cultural mission and lead, as a world power. Germany had to get rid of all historical imitation according to critics of the time.

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In 1927 Weissenh of Siedlung was constructed as a part of the municipal housing building program in which the City of Stuttgart attempted to curb housing shortage following World War I and subsequent major inflation[3]. With its decision in favor of Weissenh of Siedlung, the City of Stuttgart underlined its willingness to remain open for new ideas in architecture which were concurrently demonstrated in other estates and buildings within the city.

Despite the rejection by prominent traditionalists, the Municipal Council approved the project in 1926. The city provided the property and assumed costs for development and construction. In 1927 Organized by the German architect Mies Van de Rohe the exhibition formed a compendium of contemporary European developments in domestic architecture and construction. Many of the exhibiting architects such as Mies, Gropius, and Le Corbusier, and 14 other architects formulated their solutions for living arrangements of the modern big city dweller, married with the use and implementation of new building materials and effective construction methods. This Werkbund exposition demonstrated the renunciation from habitats characterized by pre-industrial periods.  33 houses with 63 apartments articulated their solutions for living arrangements of the modern city.

For many the exhibition was nothing else but a propaganda display that was promoted by Avant-Garde circles in the Swabian chapter of the Deutcher Werkbund to promote Modernist building forms and techniques. On the other hand, Hoffman Thomas in The Great White Hope, charge of the organization, single-family dwellings, stood in sharp contrast to traditional building methods used by local builders and the objectives of progressive forces at Stuttgart city council, which preferred mass housing in Berlin and Frankfurt. 

However, it seemed that the final appearance of the exhibition clearly shown that the Weissenh of Siedlung was conceived less as a form of housing for the people to live in.  As a means to conceive private and municipal building sponsors, planners, developers, and contractors took advantages of the new architecture. It was hoped in the past that technology would create a civilization influence on a unified society that it would manifest itself clearly and become transparent in a way that would lead to well-defined forms.  It was hoped too that ugly things would remain ugly only because they were transitory but would become clear and appropriate once they were conceived in their definitive form. It seems that the technology did not have the result of collecting life. The hope was that technology would have relieved us off some labor and that this would become a collective or else performed by specialist so that we would achieve a higher level in our lives.

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White Stucco, flat roof, large horizontal ribbon windows and the simplicity of the facades  spoke of this new idiom referred to Neues Bauen and later better known as an international style. The Exhibition at Stuttgart had the biggest impact among all the exhibitions. The overall movement was significant because it impacted on architecture in an incredible way. The Werkbund also participated in the Paris exhibition of industrial arts and building held in 1930 and was making news globally.

The start of the international style  was a formal renewal promoted by the avant-garde and later to become dominant, was the aesthetic experience that affected only a small minority. Burckhardt  Lucius in The Werkbund: History and Ideology, (The Design Council Publishing, 1880, 1977) emphasized that only a small group of people applauded the proposed innovations, while a large group reacted indignantly to the message they could not understand and a big mass of people was obviously excluded. There is no doubt that there was a big impact, or rather shock to the mdernist society when the competition for the Palace of the Soviet Union had not been won by the Avant–Garde’s design of architecture. Russia wished to construct a building that could express this dominion, and for this they turned to traditional styles of architecture, where they could recognize their power and Germany would follow Russia's traditional methods as Hitler took power and had his views on the new image. 

In conclusion, the Weissenh of Siedlung exhibition of 1927 is considered one of the most important monuments of the "Neues Bauen" movement. None of the subsequent expositions by Deutsche Werkbund achieved a comparable international charisma. Weissenh of Siedlung exhibition of 1927 was a success because it got recognition and its methods were widened. It was short leaved in Germany and contrition methods did not live to Mies expectations as compared to today’s monuments.

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  1. Burckhardt, Lucius. (Eds.) (1980, c1977) The Werkbund: history and ideology, 1907- 1933 Woodbury, N.Y.: Barron's,
  2. Lucius Burkhardt, The Werkbund: History and Ideaology, (The Design Council      Publishing, 1880, c1977) Woodbury, N.Y.: Barron's .99.
  3. Thomas Hoffman, The Great White Hope, (Publishing EBSCO, 2002) 121
  4. Ot Hoffmann im Auftrag des DWB: Der Deutsche Werkbund – 1907, 1947, 1987. Wilhelm Ernst & Sohn, Frankfurt 1987
  5. Frederic J. Schwartz (1996). The Werkbund: Design Theory and Mass Culture before the First World War. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press.
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